A Grant Fund that Finances and Empowers


red_umbrellaThe Red Umbrella Fund is a grant aimed at working with sex workers by including them in decision making processes. Through a network of sex worker organizations, the Red Umbrella Fund places prospective projects up for analysis and discussion by the very beneficiaries the projects are targeting. Sex workers are given the opportunity to shape projects from strategic goals, to activities, to every other facets of a particular intervention. Their goal is to deconstruct what they call top-down “paternalist” methodologies of project design and implementation.

The Red Umbrella Fund is signaling to the global community that development projects should strive to increase the scope of their inclusivity. By allowing beneficiaries to evaluate and modify projects they may be able to improve upon components that project managers are unable to contemplate from no fault of their own. An aspect of rights-based work that is commonly overlooked is in giving multiple stakeholders a right to decide how they will be benefited.

While the Red Umbrella Fund appears to work well with rights based projects, other sectors may suffer from this model. Projects addressing other complex issues may require specific technical expertise that is out of reach for beneficiaries. Participatory mechanisms in needs assessments may jeopardize a project potential or create false expectations from participants. That being said, this fund is doing something unique and merits closer analysis.

The Red Umbrella Fund is managed through Mama Cash, a Dutch-based NGO. They have just released a list of their first grant recipients.

Developed by: Mama Cash

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Eric Pires

Eric Pires

Eric Pires is a writer and co-founder of Innovate Development. He has worked in various sectors in Latin America and is currently working in Antigua, Guatemala.

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